Invite Your Students to Take the United States Citizenship Quiz

  • Nov 16, 2016

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If you’re a history or social studies teacher, you no doubt recognize the importance of incorporating  current events into your curricula whenever possible—as a way of illustrating a civics concept, perhaps, or to demonstrate how even long-ago events can have a direct impact on the present.

Our friends at History Classroom understand this, and over the years they have developed an impressive collection of study guides and classroom activities that can help you do these things effectively.

Take, for example, their Citizenship Quiz study guide.

With all the debate these days about citizenship, teachers have a perfect opportunity to help students consider not only the importance of this personal status, but the responsibilities that come along with it. On the History Classroom website you’ll find both the long and short versions of the actual quiz that aspiring Americans must pass in order to gain citizenship. Students can take this quiz for themselves, and then deepen their understanding by taking part in related classroom activities, which are outlined in the accompanying study guide.

The exercises touch on United States history, civics, and government, and are geared toward students in grades 5-12.

You’ll find both the quiz and the study guide on History Classroom’s website.

Check it out for yourself. And to help us keep you informed about other free educational resources and programs, please be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

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An Amazing Opportunity for Students

  • Nov 01, 2016

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Each year at this time, we’re excited to announce the start of C-SPAN’s StudentCam short documentary competition, a unique opportunity for young filmmakers (grades 6-12) to influence the national conversation with a 5 to 7-minute film on an issue of sociopolitical importance.

And as an added incentive, C-SPAN will award cash prizes to 150 winning students and 53 teacher advisors!

This year’s theme:

“Your Message to Washington”
What is the most urgent issue for the new president and Congress to address in 2017?

Students may begin submitting videos on November 1, 2016. The submission deadline for all videos is January 20, 2017.

As we like to say in this space, the two things every student has these days are 1) a camera, and 2) an opinion. Let’s help them discover the opportunities available to them when they use those things constructively.

“The kids loved it. For them it was about creating memorable and engaging learning experiences,” says StudentCam participant Karen Rehder of Farragut Middle School in Knoxville, Tennessee. “We took the art of research and storytelling and applied them to 21st-century learning skills.”

In order to get a better idea of what’s expected, check out last year’s winning videos here. For additional information, visit C-SPAN’s StudentCam.

Good luck!

To receive more information about opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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A Great Way to Bring Current Events Into Your Classroom

  • May 11, 2016

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This year’s presidential election has been unusual, to say the least, and no doubt it’s been a topic of conversation in your classrooms. And whether you and your students are studying current events or simply discussing them, there are available to you a host of channels and free resources that can help make any such engagement educational.

Today we bring you news of yet another terrific election resources from educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and our friends at HISTORY. HMH Election Connection is a free online resource billed as a “comprehensive, one-stop information hub for current and historical election coverage.” Geared toward students in grades 6 through 12, the site includes a wide range of materials, including daily news broadcasts, lesson plans, HISTORY videos, and readers.

There are also activities available, including guidelines for conducting a mock election, and one particularly interesting project designed to help students recognize propaganda.

Overall, HMH Election Connection is a solid resource with lots to offer the creative educator. Check out the website today. For additional election resources, visit HISTORY.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/HISTORY

An Historic Development

  • Apr 26, 2016

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With the recent announcement that abolitionist Harriet Tubman (right) will replace President Andrew Jackson on the face of our $20 bill comes a great educational opportunity comprising history, social studies, civil rights, and government studies—a teachable moment that springs from a little slice of history that’s unfolding right before our eyes, and, more to the point, right before the eyes of our students.

With that in mind, our friends at History Classroom have made available a free, downloadable study guide entitled Redesigning Our Nation’s Currency, a handy overview of the history and process of American currency redesign. Also included are suggested classroom activities and links for further study.

If you decide to investigate this resource you’ll no doubt quickly determine that it was created back when the only bill under consideration for redesign was the 10. Now we’re doing three bills, but the study guide certainly holds up as a tool for educators seeking to help students of all ages navigate this important story.

See for yourself on History Classroom’s website.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Image credits:
Harriet Tubman: Ohio History Connection (OHC), dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Studio Building, Boston.
$20 bill: Wikipedia; public domain

C-SPAN Is Election Central for Students and Teachers!

  • Mar 23, 2016

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The race for the White House is on, and C-SPAN Classroom has earned our endorsement for once again providing teachers with the best, most educational lesson plans, activities, and materials—including a 2016 Electoral College Map poster (pictured, below) available free-of-charge for registered C-SPAN Classroom members!

This large, beautiful graphic, which will look great in your classroom, is designed to facilitate educational discussion on a variety of topics relating to the 2016 election, and is suited to a wide range of grade levels. How you use it is up to you, but if you’re looking for ideas there is a collection of lesson plans and activities available at C-SPAN Classroom as well.

Sign-up and request your poster today. Registration is also free.

But wait, there’s more!

C-SPAN Classroom has also put together a wonderful collection of resources (developed by teachers) that cover all aspects of the election process, from candidates and campaign ads to polling, campaign financing, and debate—each topic supplemented with related video clips, discussion questions, handouts, and culminating activities to reinforce students’ learning.

Check it out for yourself. These resources are all free-of-charge, and available right now on the C-SPAN Classroom website.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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The Results Are In!

  • Mar 16, 2016

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“With the presidential campaign in the forefront of people’s minds, we wanted to hear from students across the country about the issues that matter to them,” says Craig McAndrew, C-SPAN’s Manager of Education Relations.

And hear they did! Nearly 6,000 student filmmakers (in grades 6-8) took part in this year’s C-SPAN StudentCam documentary competition, creating 2,887 films based on the theme: “Road to the White House: What’s the issue YOU want candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential election?”

As it turned out, the top three issues chosen by students this cycle had to do with the economy, equality, and education, and the films they created by which to express themselves were stellar even for this competition, which has been bringing out the best in student filmmakers since 2006. In all, 150 students and 53 teachers were awarded prizes. But it was 10th-grade student Olivia Hurd of Jenks, Oklahoma (below), who scored the year’s top spot with her thoroughly engaging documentary about the national debt, Up to Our Necks.

We congratulate Olivia, along with all of this year’s winning teachers and students!

Learn more about the competition and watch all the winning entries on the official StudentCam website.

And to learn about other great opportunities and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Apply Today for the C-SPAN 2016 Teacher Fellowship Program

  • Jan 25, 2016

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If you are a state certified middle or high school teacher (U.S. History, Civics, Government, or related curriculum) who uses C-SPAN resources in your classroom, you could find yourself in the nation’s capital this summer helping to shape education nationwide!

C-SPAN is seeking innovative educators for its 2016 Teacher Fellowship Program, which will take place over the course of four consecutive weeks this June-July at the network’s offices in Washing, DC.

Chosen Fellows will collaborate with the C-SPAN Education department to develop new teaching materials using the network’s vast library of resources, and participants will also be invited to brainstorm ideas with fellow teachers at a series of educator conferences.

And to seal the deal, each Fellow receives a stipend of $7,000 to cover housing, travel, and living expenses.

So, what are you doing this summer?

Registration is open until Friday, February 26, 2016. For more information visit C-SPAN Classroom.

And to find out about other great opportunities and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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War Stories

  • Jan 08, 2016

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It’s nearly impossible for the uninitiated to fully appreciate what it’s like to be a soldier at war, and yet it’s really the duty of every American to at least try. After all, the personal sacrifices made by the members of our military, the harrowing experiences and losses endured by even those who return to us fully intact, are made on our behalf.

So with an eye toward understanding, we’re proud to help get the word out about History Channel’s Live to Tell, a new series that offers warriors who’ve served on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq the opportunity to share their personal experiences of war.

Relevant to current events, history and politics courses, the program is recommended for students in 10th grade and above.

Live to Tell premieres Sunday, January 10th at 10/9c on HISTORY (channel 269 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup). All episodes will also be available for streaming subsequent to airing.

You can watch the series trailer, below.

And for news about other great educational programs, bookmark this site and be sure to follow DIRECTV GOES TO SCHOOL on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Campaigns in Your Classroom

  • Dec 08, 2015

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With the commencement of the Iowa Caucuses on February 1 the presidential election season will be officially underway, and your students can have a front-row seat for the entire process with DIRECTV.

If your school is among the thousands across America who have raised their hands to receive complimentary programming via our  DIRECTV Goes to School initiative, you and your students already enjoy full access to some of the very best election coverage available on television—including shows and study resources prepared specifically for education.

For example, there’s C-SPAN (DIRECTV channel 350), the highly-respected source for exhaustive and unvarnished coverage of public affairs. Live coverage of daily politics is their mainstay, and it’s backed-up by a dedicated Road to the White House 2016 web site that’s heavy on study materials and completely free-of-charge for teachers and students.

C-SPAN’s sister network, C-SPAN2 (ch. 351), is another great resource for daily public affairs coverage, and it’s also included in our DIRECTV School Choice lineup.

Other news channels in your DIRECTV lineup include Bloomberg Television (ch. 353), CNN (ch. 202) and CNN en Español (ch. 419), Fox News Channel (ch. 360), HLN (Ch. 204), and MSNBC (ch. 356)—all of which will be covering the campaigns.

And of special note this election season is CNN Student News, a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program designed for viewing in middle and high school classrooms. Produced by the journalists at CNN, and anchored by Carl Azuz (students love this guy), this award-winning show is new and timely each morning on the CNN Student News web site.

All in all that’s a lot of presidential campaign coverage, and it’s coming your way every day via DIRECTV School Choice. You can record shows for use in the classroom; download lesson plans to incorporate into existing curricula; or even come up with special projects for extra credit. How you “elect” to use all this great material it is up to you.

So start exploring!

And to learn about some of the other great benefits of DIRECTV School Choice, just bookmark this site for regular updates, and be sure to follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Good News

  • Oct 28, 2015

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“We are all journalists now.”

Chances are you’ve run across that statement somewhere. More and more people are saying it, because it’s true. The line has been blurred. No longer do the professionals have a monopoly on published information. Whether you’re blogging or tweeting or posting things on Facebook, you are functioning—for all practical purposes—as a journalist.

But the question is: Are you a “responsible” journalist? Is the information you are publishing true, or propaganda, or (heaven forbid) an outright lie?

It’s an important question when you consider that we are all, each of us, now living in a virtual sea of information, and information is the stuff people use to make decisions. Decisions that have consequences. Information is a powerful thing.

I believe this point is especially relevant for young people, most of whom haven’t yet compiled enough savvy to recognize that not everything they read is accurate, or even true. Moreover, young people are digital natives, more likely than any other group to both publish and receive information exclusively via the internet.

For this reason alone, I believe that media literacy and a core understanding of journalistic principles are essential to modern education. And to that end, I bring you news of a new trio of resources from PBS Learning Media designed to foster media literacy and responsible citizen journalism in students grades 9 through 12.

Presented as learning modules comprising standards-based classroom exercises and support materials for teachers, the available topics are:

Writing and Reporting/Collaborative Research
A primer on news writing and reporting.

Current Events Awareness/Media Literacy
Consuming news with a critical eye.

Persuasive Writing: Take a Stand
How to state ideas clearly and back them up with proof.

These lessons and more come your way free of charge as part of an exciting new educational effort from the Emmy-winning PBS news magazine series, NOW. We highly recommend that you check it out for yourself.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio